Six public health challenges and data needs are evident, based upon lessons learned from the 2009 influenza pandemic. These are the conclusions of Maria Van Kerkhove and colleagues published in this week's PLoS Medicine, which they argue can help shape the response and readiness for future pandemics.
As the global epidemiology of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza (H1N1pdm) virus strain unfolds into 2010, substantial policy challenges will continue to present themselves for the next 12 to 18 months. These are: measuring age-specific immunity to infection; accurately quantifying severity; improving treatment outcomes for severe cases; quantifying the effectiveness of interventions; capturing the full impact of the pandemic on mortality; and rapidly identifying and responding to antigenic variants.
The authors argue that serological surveys and monitoring time-sources are critical sources of pandemic data, which need better dissem ination. They suggest that "some of the most valuable data, such as estimates of age-specific serological attack rates, have not become available until far after the time when it would have been needed to support decision making."
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